Friday, July 08, 2016

Criminals in our midst

A British report -- named after the author Sir John Chilcott -- has told us what we already knew about the U.S. and British war on Iraq: this was an con job perpetrated by elites on their own peoples. They knew or could have known (and if you are the government that's just as bad) that Saddam Hussein was no threat to anyone but his own people. They knew or could have known that they had no plans for what would happen once their armies had crashed into Iraq's cities. They knew or could have known that the country was likely to tear itself apart in sectarian and ethnic rivalries once the dictator was removed. They knew or could have known that thousands of Iraqis who had never wronged them in any way would die and/or be made refugees on their initiative. But they made their war anyway and have paid no penalty for instigating the carnage that continues to this day. They should be defendants on a trial for disturbing the peace of the world, not comfortably retired.

Erudite Partner (Rebecca Gordon) responded to the report at Juan Cole's Informed Comment, always a good source on the interactions between the Muslim world and the West. Her article, Surprise! It was a War Crime, is worth checking out in full. Some highlights:

... members of the Bush administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney and his longtime associate Paul Wolfowitz, actually came into office with an explicit plan ... The ultimate goal would be a realignment of power in the Middle East, with Syria destabilized, a Hashemite king ruling Iraq, and a new regional alliance among Turkey, Jordan, and Israel.

Syria has certainly been “rolled back” in a civil war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and made over half its population either internal or external refugees.The US invasion or Iraq did not cause the Syrian civil war, but it unleashed the shock waves—as Wolfowitz and his co-authors predicted and hoped—that made it possible, as well as creating the conditions for the rise of extremist forces like the Islamic State.

... It’s clear, too, from the Senate torture report and other public records, that U.S. torture in the “war on terror” began because Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush needed a reason to invade Iraq. The CIA tortured Abu Zubaydah into saying that Saddam Hussein was in league with al-Qaeda in the 9/11 attacks. They shipped a Libyan named Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, who probably had been an al Qaeda trainer, to Egypt. There he was waterboarded until he agreed to the proposition that, as President Bush put it in an October 2002 speech to the nation, “Iraq has trained al Qaeda in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases.” Donald Rumsfeld wrote his famous memo okaying torture at Guantánamo in hopes that someone there would say the same thing. ...

These men, and their underlings, and their abettors should be in the dock.

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